Country Meadows Elementary School Principal Val Barrett is one of a handful of educators in the nation who was invited to participate in the 21st Annual Model Schools Conference in Washington, D.C., June 30 through July 3. Getting there was no easy task. After completing a lengthy application, Barrett participated in a phone interview in January before learning he was selected to represent the Peoria Unified School District and Arizona at the conference.

Barrett and Alice Cushing, Peoria Unified district coordinator for the instructional audit process, co-presented at the conference and were the only administrators representing Arizona who were asked to speak. Educators from 16 other model schools from across the country joined Barrett and Cushing to present in Washington, D.C.

The Country Meadows principal was encouraged to apply after wrapping up a successful year on the Country Meadows campus by increasing their AZ Learns Label from a “C” to a “B.” Cushing was the district coordinator for the Instructional Audit Process and worked directly with Barrett and the Country Meadows staff since the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program was piloted on the school’s campus two years ago. With her help, the program has been a tremendous success.

Barrett and Cushing took to the stage to discuss the methods and practices used on the campus that led to the many successes of the students at Country Meadows Elementary. The conference also allowed Barrett to brainstorm with other educators and bring fresh ideas home to share with students, teachers and his peers within the Peoria Unified School District.